On September 3, 2019, during a meeting of the Los Angeles Fire Commission, the executive leadership of the Los Angeles Fire Department formally recognized a pair of veteran LAFD Firefighter/Paramedics for saving the life of a 1 year-old boy who was choking on a rubber ball.
The incident took place at 6:33 AM on February 2, 2019, when LAFD Paramedic Assessment Engine 15 and Paramedic Rescue Ambulance 47 responded to a 9-1-1 call of a child choking on Ithaca Avenue in the El Sereno neighborhood of northeast Los Angeles.
Engine 15 arrived quickly to find a panicked mother holding her precious 1 year-old baby boy, Zayden Medina, whose airway was partially obstructed by what the mother described as a rubber ball.
The first arriving LAFD crew member jumped into action, holding Zayden in one arm with his face down and initiating back blows with the other arm. Despite the skilfull application of that often beneficial and initially indicated medical intervention, the back blows proved ineffective.
With the young patient's condition rapidly deteriorating - the color had left Zayden's face and what was originally a partial airway obstruction, had become a full obstruction, Rescue 47 arrived to take over care, with Firefighter/Paramedic Matsuura carefully laying the patient face-up on the ambulance gurney with the head elevated, while Firefighter/Paramedic Bish skillfully used a laryngoscope to lift open the patient’s mouth.
At that moment, Matsuura was able to visualize the obstruction and use magill forceps with surgical precision, to successfully remove the round ball from the patient’s airway.
But baby Zayden was still not breathing.
While rushing the child to their waiting ambulance, Bish and Matsuura seamlessly initiated rescue breathing via a bag-valve-mask resuscitation device, and in less than a minute, the child began breathing on his own during transport to the hospital.
Expressing his extreme pride in the pair of rescuers for saving the boy's life, Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas presented formal Certificates of Appreciation to:
- Firefighter III / Paramedic Masakazu Matsuura
- Firefighter III / Paramedic Frank Bish
"In recognition and sincere gratitude for your heroic courage, diligent efforts, personal initiative and expedient assistance which directly resulted in the saving of a baby's life during a choking emergency on February, 2, 2019 in the 4900 block of Ithaca Avenue in El Sereno, the Los Angeles Fire Department officially commends you for extraordinary lifesaving efforts to a citizen of the City of Los Angeles. Presented this 3rd day of September, 2019. Signed, Ralph M. Terrazas, Fire Chief".
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